Valley's university centre opens doors for students

A CLARENCE Valley woman completing a masters in terrorism and cyber security is just one of the students ready to access Grafton's Country University Centre next month.

The centre, which will enable local residents to study courses offered by most Australian universities without leaving the Clarence Valley, is on target to open at the end of July.

New centre manager Melanie Lamb said much of the interior of the former Red Cross Hall in Pound St, Grafton was complete, with the finishing touches to be applied and furniture to be installed before the end of the month.

"We're looking at July 29, or possibly the first couple of days in August, to be finished," she said.

Ms Lamb has taken over the reins at the Country University Centre (CUC) in recent weeks after Trish Whannell opted against continuing in the role.

Ms Lamb has extensive teaching experience in Queensland and has been working part-time at Clarence Valley Anglican School since moving to the region last year.

She is excited to be in a new role in tertiary education which could be a game changer for the region.

"Really, this is the beginning of a new way of doing university education," Ms Lamb said.

"The world is changing for uni students. Once you sat in a lecture theatre for two hours, then next day did your two-hour tutorial.

"Now, instead of 100 students packed into a lecture hall on a Monday morning, you might have 25 and the rest will catch it up online."

Ms Lamb said CUC's opened up new markets for tertiary education.

"Lots of kids get jobs and end up staying in their home towns and miss out on the chance for a university education," she said. "Now they can study here at just about any university course in Australia."

Ms Lamb said she already had 10 students enrolled to begin study when Semester 2 commences next month.

"We haven't really done much advertising. I haven't begun to get around to schools to talk about what we've got to offer," she said.

Ms Lamb said the Grafton CUC would also run workshops to help students learn how to use its facilities.

In addition to its own students, the CUC building will also serve as a venue for uni students home on a break needing a place to study.

"Anyone who is enrolled in a university course can come here at any time to use the internet connections or study space," Ms Lamb said. "The same goes for TAFE students. We want to be a resource for all students who want to upskill themselves."

The facility is expected to be officially opened before the end of August.



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